Greetings and Good Wishes for Social Occasions in French

By Audrey Alleyne

How would you tell a French friend “Happy Bastille Day"? The French do not really say that, the way we say "Happy 4th of July." It would be nice to know how to express and exchange greetings in French. Here are some common ones.

Expressions Used in French Wishes

The French, like everyone else, have many greetings which they use to extend good wishes to each other on birthdays, feast days and holidays. They also exchange toasts on special occasions, and congratulate each other on passing examinations and winning contests. What expressions do the French use to express these greetings? The words “joyeux and bon(ne) are the main words used to initiate the greeting or wish. Here is a list of some common wishes:

Vive la France! Long live France

Joyeux Noël - Merry Christmas

Bonne Année - Happy New Year

Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année - Season’s Greetings

Bonne fête de Pâques - Happy Easter

Bon voyage - Have a good trip

Bonnes vacances - Enjoy your vacation

Meilleurs voeux - Best wishes

Bon anniversaire - Happy Birthday

Bonne fête (Canada) - Happy Birthday

Joyeux Anniversaire - Happy Birthday (used for the Happy Birthday song)

Bon appétit - Enjoy your meal

Bonne soirée - Have a nice evening

Passez une bonne journée/soirée - Have a nice day/evening

Que Dieu vous bénisse - May God bless you

A votre santé/Santé - Cheers

A la tienne/à la votre - Cheers

Some More Expressions

You can also say:

Je vous félicite (or) Félicitations - Congratulations

In expressing good wishes on undertaking a venture, you will hear:

Bonne chance - Good Luck

Bon courage - Have courage/Good luck

Je vous souhaite - I wish you….

Je vous souhaite tous mes meilleurs vœux - I wish you all the best

The French wish each other well for almost everything. You just use the word “bon’ or ‘bonne’ or the phrase ‘je vous souhaite’ or je te souhaite..’ and you can be assured the French people will be happy with you. At home, on the street, when someone wins a prize, there’s always an occasion for congratulations.

To express condolences on the death of someone, you say:

Condoléances

Armed with these expressions, you can go a long way in feeling at ease in establishing and maintaining social relationships with the French.

Here are some other websites, where you can learn more about French greetings:

About.com greetings

About.com special occasions

Word Reference: wishes

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